Veterinary science

These courses take between five to six years to complete and provide the pathway to become professionally qualified as a veterinary surgeon.

Graduate destinations

5,090 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.

92.8% of graduates went directly into employment.

Top four graduate destinations:

  1. Professional, scientific, and technical
  2. Education
  3. Health and social work
  4. Arts, entertainment, and recreation




There are a range of Advanced/Level 3 apprenticeships (equivalent level to A levels).

Animal welfare apprenticeships offer specialist pathways to choose from, including:

  • animal care and welfare
  • zoos and wildlife establishments
  • dog grooming
  • pet care and retail
  • animal training

Veterinary nursing apprenticeships enable you to train for job roles such as:

  • veterinary nurse – small animal
  • veterinary nurse – equine
  • head veterinary nurse
  • head equine veterinary nurse

Find out more about apprenticeships

Discover more about apprenticeships in agriculture, animals, horticulture and the environment

Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.

Agriculture, animals, horticulture and the environment industry guide

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a veterinary medicine degree you will normally require A level biology and two other subjects.

Entry requirements range from BBC to A*AA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for AAA.

In addition, you will also need five GCSEs (A-C) including science, English, and maths.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBCC to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AA.


Entry to veterinary medicine courses is highly competitive and the selection process rigorous as a result. You can expect to be interviewed by each university and some also employ additional screening tests. The University of Surrey uses an online questionnaire, designed to test your level of knowledge about the profession and to check you have the requisite insight and motivation to take on the degree. 

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

‘The requirement for other subjects varies a little from university to university, but either one or two subjects from chemistry, physics, or mathematics should be offered. Some universities may accept a third A level in a non-science subject, but it must be an academically sound subject.’

Personal statement

The level of competition for places means that the personal statement forms a critical part of the selection process. It is essential that applicants can demonstrate that they have several weeks relevant work experience. Admissions tutors will be looking for the following evidence in your personal statement:

  • You are well informed and passionate about veterinary science, both as a subject and as a future career.
  • You have at least one to two weeks’ experience of working with animals (this can include for example experience of working on farms, in kennels, stables, and rescue centres).
  • You have spent at least a week working in a veterinary practice.
  • You possess the appropriate skills and qualities to become a vet.

Candidates are selected on the basis of their all-round ability including educational achievements and/or predictions together with personal attributes such as motivation to study the subject, awareness of current issues and developments in veterinary medicine and science, ability to work as part of a team, initiative, communication skills, self-confidence, compassion and empathy.

How to write your personal statement

Key areas of employment

Following completion of their degree, graduates need to register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in order to practice. Typically, graduates go on to find employment in the following areas:

Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in veterinary science.

Find a course in veterinary science

Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course on a shorter timescale. 

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